Maintaining a correct body posture is vital for our overall well-being. All parts of the body are affected by it including the internal organs, joints, muscles etc and even the breath. When the alignment of our posture is incorrect, we can experience discomfort, pain, incorrect breathing and in some cases illness.
Let’s look at three of the most common incorrect postures, their causes and how to correct them with Pilates exercises and yoga asanas.
Lumbar lordosis happens when there is an exaggerated lumbar spine curvature. This brings the pelvis out of alignment, into an anterior tilt. Some causes of this incorrect posture are due to flexed hips and weak abdominal muscles. This means that the core does not have enough strength to support the lower spine, so the pressure is placed on the lower back.
HOW TO CORRECT:
Strengthen the core muscles with mat Pilates exercises and various asanas. It’s important to be mindful that during the core strengthening exercises, the lower spine should not be arched, so tuck the tail bone under, towards the mat. Other exercises to correct this posture are any hip openers which provide a good stretch to the hips and release tension in this area. Focusing on strengthening the hamstrings and glutes is also important, because then the lower spine can receive support.
Asanas: halasana, uttanasana, adho mukha svanasana, navasana, kumhakasana;
Pilates exercises: the hundred, shoulder bridge, single/double leg stretch.
Sway back is an incorrect posture of the pelvis being pushed forward and a flat lumbar spine. This can create pressure on the lower back, joints and knees. Some causes of sway back can be tight upper abdominal muscles and weakness of the hips and leg muscles.
A range of exercises and asanas which lengthen and stretch the spine, releasing tension between the vertebraes. Increasing spinal mobility through spinal twists exercises and lateral flexions and focusing on strengthening the lower core muscles.
Asanas: Navasana, uttanasana, paschimottanasana, cat/cow, ardha mastyendrasana.
Pilates exercises: supine position leg raises, Russian twists, side toe taps.
Thoracic kyphosis is an exaggerated forward rounding of the middle back, causing the neck and head to be forward and the shoulders rounding inward. This can happen if you sit for long periods of time in front of a computer/desk work or even stress which can feel a burden on your shoulders. This incorrect posture creates tension in the chest area, causing tightness and stiffness. The breath is also affected as the chest is not open and the diaphragm is not moving effectively.
Exercises that open the chest and shoulders to release all the tension in this area; increasing the range of mobility in the thoracic spine/middle back area through cat cow; stretching the arms can also help as this can release tension from the shoulders; strengthening the lower back and core muscles.
Asanas: Malasana, Dhanurasana, Ustrasana, setu bandha sarvangasana, cat/cow.
Pilates exercises: swimming, open chest prone position exercises, shoulder mobility exercises, swan dive.
*If you are experiencing any back/spine problems or have concerns about your posture, check with a GP before practicing any of the above.